‘Ode to the taxpayer’

ECONOMICSTDAY-1Between 1988 and 2001, I participated in every Independence Day Parade playing in the mass band which comprised the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, Regiment Band and the Combermere School Cadet Band. 

I cannot describe the pride and joy of standing next to Cortez Callender from the Police Band as a youngster playing clarinet and getting goose bumps trying to emulate his playing of the melodic runs in Cavalry Brigade or his complete mastery of Pack She Back, Brown Girl or Matilda

Looking back on those years, first as a cadet rising within the ranks and then as a member of the Zouave Band, the experience made my Independence very memorable and the sense of patriotism it engendered seemed surreal.  Cortez Callender retired this year from the Police Band after 52 years of service and therefore will not be participating in this year’s parade.

Left to me and if he was willing, I would give him the opportunity to be the Parade Director of the Mass Band as an appreciation of his long service to Barbados. 

In this our 50th year of Independence, I cannot help but reminisce about the ‘good ole days’ but I also feel compelled not to wallow in what once was.  There is a deep sense in me to want to take pride in what Barbados has been able to achieve but one still has a very strong nagging sense that better must be done today, otherwise that pride may very well be misplaced.

Anthony Walrond, if you don’t know him, is a local songwriter who has penned a calypso entitled A Golden Jubilee which represents an Ode to the Taxpayer.  It hasn’t received much airplay on the radio stations but I feel compelled to share the lyrics of his composition with you and hope that perhaps you may share in the sentiments he has expressed.

Verse one

50th Anniversary Independence Celebration

For you the dignitary with a special invitation

Did they reserve a seat for you up in the front row?

With the pompous and the elite for the ceremony and show.

Someone the ushers had missed,

For there was an empty spot

When they check the guest list,

It was you they forgot

Who should receive any tribute paid

for the best national contribution made

It is you, it is you, it is you

Who is it time and time again, stop the economy gine down the drain

It is you, it is you, it is you

Who is the country’s greatest asset,

To raise revenue and to pay out debt

To replenish Treasury funds,

Cover up them overruns

It is you, it is you, it is you

If anyone truly deserves,

Honours for these 50 years served

And respect long over due

Taxpayer it is you

It is you, it is you, it is you, it is you

Verse 2

Our Golden Jubilee, an appropriate celebration

Of an epic winding journey, down the hard road as a nation

Our leaders just like Moses headed for the promised land,

With no guide to their bed of roses, only footprints in the sand.

Politicians steady and good, they arrived on the shores

Only then they understood, all those footprints were yours.

Who gave him all that confidence,

To go and demand Independence

It is you, it is you, it is you

And gave him all the faith he did need

to make ambitious programmes succeed

It is you, it is you, it is you

For example, education free

Now cut back up there at UWI

National Insurance Scheme and no one supporting me

It is you, it is you, it is you

Other leaders emulate the Skipper of ship of State

Who made up their tireless crew

Taxpayer, It is you

It is you, it is you, Taxpayer, it is you

Verse 3

50th Anniversary, an affordable celebration

Of sacrifice and bravery, by the builders of this nation.

On faith and trust it was founded, pillars never to be shaken

And workers by whom it was grounded, should never be forsaken

Like an anniversary pardon, grant them a little gift

An ease in the tax burden, the nation’s spirit will lift

Who feeling the loss of spending power, though we didn’t devalue we dollar

It is we, it is we, it is we

Land, income, NIS and VAT,

tipping solid waste who absorbing that?

It is we, it is we, it is we

These questions for Ministers ask

Who paid pensioners in the past?

And this golden 7 mil and

10 percent members back pay bill?

It is we, It is we, It is we

50 Barbados who gine cheer

Hip pip… Hip hip hooray

And launch their 5 year Jubilee

Taxpayer, it is we, it is we, Taxpayer it is we

Calypsos and their lyrics have a way of capturing the essence of Bajans and so with these few words, I wish you and your family and very Happy Independence.

(Ryan Straughn is an UWI Cave Hill and Central Bank of Barbados-trained economist who is the endorsed Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for Christ Church East Central at the next general election. Email: straughn.ryan@gmail.com)

One Response to ‘Ode to the taxpayer’

  1. Rechelle November 27, 2016 at 7:22 am

    They forgot we. I hope we never ever make such a mistake again at the polls.


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